Members of Parliament passed a unanimous motion to suspend parliamentary sittings for the coming five weeks, in a response to the threat of the Covid19 coronavirus. We can not risk having MPs become disease vectors spreading the virus into and out of our communities and Ottawa.
As MPs we come into contact with a lot of people. Many of us have to regularly fly back and forth to Ottawa. We meet with many people in our ridings, and we meet with people who travel to Ottawa to meet with us. We take part in conferences, meetings and receptions. Every day in the House of Commons I have been sitting in a room with 337 other MP's who are also interacting with many people in their communities and in Ottawa. All those activities have stopped effective this morning.
The COVID19 pandemic is a serious public health concern, and it is essential that we all do our part to reduce and slow the spread of the virus. Federal and provincial health authorities are asking us all to limit our social contact, wash our hands frequently, and stay home if we show any signs of illness. Public gatherings are being cancelled, and Canadians are being advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country.
For these reasons, my staff and I made the decision to postpone all of my upcoming Spring 2020 community meetings. We have also cancelled my and my staff’s attendance in all public gatherings. We have been listening to the health authorities and are taking a precautionary approach. At this time my constituency office will remain open during regular hours. We ask that any individuals with signs of illness please call instead of coming into the office.
Right now, our collective goal as Canadians must be to slow the spread of the virus. Infectious disease experts call this "flattening the curve", as illustrated below. By following the precautionary measures recommended by our health authorities, we can slow down the infection rate and ensure that our healthcare system will not be overwhelmed. That means every person who needs care will be able to get care if we all pull together and take these precautions. I believe we can do this.
Please remember that not every person who gets COVID-19 will experience a severe reaction. Many people will only experience mild flu symptoms and heal on their own, at home, with no medical treatment. If you suspect that you may be infected with the coronavirus please call your healthcare provider or 8-1-1 BC Health Information to be assessed. Our hospitals are full of people who have compromised immune systems, because they are being treated for other illnesses, like cancer. These people are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. This is why our health authorities are asking people to avoid unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments, and the first line of assessment and testing takes place away from our hospitals. Again, please call your healthcare provider or 8-1-1 BC Health Information to be assessed if you believe you may be infected with the coronavirus.
I am encouraged to hear that the government is working on a plan that will help individuals and small businesses through the financial hardship of this pandemic. I spoke in the House of Commons about the need for such a plan, and I look forward to hearing more details soon. I hope that it will bring a measure of relief and comfort for the many part-time, contract, freelance, and gig economy workers in Canada who live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford even a small loss of income due to illness or layoffs.
We are hoping to reschedule my community meetings for June. In the meantime I will continue to report to you through this blog and you can get in touch with me through my constituency office if you have questions, comments or concerns.
COVID-19 Information & Resources:
Government of Canada COVID-19 Information - Updates, Travel Advisories, Prevention & Risk, Canada's Response
BC Centre for Disease Control - Information About the Virus, Community Resources, Self-Isolation & Testing
Vancouver Island Health Authority - Coronavirus Information (COVID-19)
City of Nanaimo - City's Response to COVID-19
Town of Ladysmith - COVID-19 Information
Regional District of Nanaimo - RDN Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
World Health Organization - Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
1-833-784-4397 Government of Canada COVID-19 Information
8-1-1 BC Health Information